We have had some good news in the past couple of days in Kingsway; the second school has had its planning permission approved. What makes this important is the timing, the County Council has brought the timing of this forward to meet the high demand for school places. What is more of concern to me now is not so much the building itself, but the organisation of the schools, just how will two schools, so close together, provide the most effective educational solution for Kingsway pupils.
The reason it sailed through planning is that it is an exact replica of the school that has already been built, so any issues should have been highlighted and ironed out with the first one. In terms of location, they are very close together, so this really highlights a major question of just how will this school be ran. I am (and have been) critical of the proposed timeline (to be open by September 2013) becuase given my experience of School 1 and Kingsway development in general I have come to learn that the best of intentions rarely bear fruit. While I do sincerely hope the building can meet these challenging timescales, I’m not holding my breath but would relish being proved wrong becuase we need these spaces!
If it is in competition with the already popular Kingsway School (1) then how will it be different, and is this really in the best interest of pupils and parents? It’s not like a secondary school where they can choose a differentiator like being a technology college, it should deliver the same standards as the current school. Or will we get play off from one to the other, the potential for splitting families between the two schools should spaces become a problem.
The whole way it will be running is also a concern in terms of Academy status and just how that fits in terms of funding models, leading to unnecessary competition. Kingsway 1 has already got a good reputation for being a cornerstone of the community, I think with good thinking and management, Kingsway 2 can become another cornerstone in its own right rather than trying to occupy the same competitive space.
My preferred way of looking at it is to review the provision in Kingsway as a whole, and look at the two buildings in terms of the development of a Kingsway pupil. To that end, I would really like to see one school being a dedicated infants school and the other being the Junior school. This could mean one leadership team working both schools, or a collaboration between both teams or something else which is effective for the pupils, not just for money generation!